By Doug Porter
An inter-agency training exercise set for this summer is stoking fears of an invasion or military take-over of Texas. And maybe even southern California.
Yes, folks, this is the Big One. After six years of hysteria over Death Panels, Sharia Law, and Big Brother coming to get your guns, the wingnut class has deemed Jade Helm 15 to be the Obamapocalypse.
I mean, it’s got to be for real if Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to carefully monitor the military training exercise—looking for signs that the military is planning to confiscate Texans’ guns or impose martial law.
“It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed,” said Abbott in a letter to Maj. Gen. Gerald Betty of the Texas State Guard.
Senator Ted Cruz is demanding Pentagon answer his questions. Actor Chuck Norris is sounding the alarm.
“The U.S. government says, ‘It’s just a training exercise.’ But I’m not sure the term ‘just’ has any reference to reality when the government uses it,” said Norris in his column for the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily this week.
— #IStandwIsrael ن (@DagnyRed) April 26, 2015
Here’s a reality-based description from Forbes:
“Jade Helm 15” is scheduled to take place over seven American states, including Texas, beginning in July, and will run for three months. According to the Army, the locations for the games were chosen to simulate the terrain and topography of certain foreign combat zones—a plan that, apparently, makes sense to the six states who are not concerned that the federal government is coming to invade their state…but not so much to the head of the Texas government.
My favorite part of this latest wave of free association reality from the right is the part about WalMart’s role. This one involves FEMA, the Islamic State AND Chinese troops taking our second amendment away.
The best and briefest description I’ve found was at conspiracy debunking site Snopes.com:
Well, you see, WalMart suddenly closed down several stores (including a couple in Texas) due to “plumbing problems.” And it’s highly suspicious that WalMart would abruptly shutter all those stores at the same time for the same (weak-sounding) reason, so clearly something else is going on — something obviously connected to Jade Helm (even though WalMart also closed stores in states far outside the geographic range of the Jade Helm exercises).
What’s up? Apparently the military is constructing FEMA domes in Texas to house “insurgents” after the declaration of martial law. And those closed WalMart stores will be converted into giant entrance facilities for a network of underground tunnels that the U.S. military will use to link “deep underground military bases” (DUMBS) and secretly transport troops across the U.S. (those troops presumably being necessary to enforce the imposition of martial law). And we know for a fact that trains bearing shackles have been already been readied to transport “insurgents” (aka “American political prisoners”) to “FEMA detention camps” (aka “FEMA death domes”) because an anonymous Texas Ranger said so.
By why martial law, and why is it coming now? Because the militant Islamic State (ISIS) is camped just across the border from El Paso and is planning to launch an attack on the Southwestern U.S. from Mexico. And while our valiant troops are busy fighting off the ISIS threat, all those closed WalMart stores will be serving double duty as food distribution centers for the Chinese troops who will be welcomed here to disarm the American citizenry while our attention is diverted elsewhere.
So I looked around the internet this morning for the snarkiest response to this latest bit of fear-mongering and found it at Stone Kettle Station, the blog of retired US Navy Chief Warrant Officer Jim Wright:
If you think the president can just wave his big Magic Negro Ray of Chocolate Mojo and declare martial law, you really don’t understand how your government works – but then again that’s not even a little bit surprising given a sitting US senator such as Ted Cruz apparently doesn’t understand how the very government he is part of works either.
How Did Corinthian Colleges Stay in Business?
Corinthian Colleges, Inc. officially filed for bankruptcy on Monday, surprising no one. Last week they’d shuttered their remaining campuses, leaving 16,000 students to fend for themselves.
Five years ago, with assets just shy of $1.4 billion, more than 100 campuses and over 100,000 students Corinthian was among the nation’s largest for-profit education companies. Its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, filed in Delaware, listed debts of $143 million and assets totaling $19.2 million.
The company’s issues with student loans and job placement haven’t exactly been a secret in recent years. A plethora of state and federal agencies launched investigations stemming from complaints by graduates who felt they’d been taken for a ride.
Lee Fang, writing at The Intercept, sheds some light on how Corinthian survived for so long:
The spectacular crash of Corinthian Colleges after years of systematically deceiving thousands of students into enrolling into low-quality, high-cost education programs has once again raised questions about how the for-profit college industry staved off stronger rules governing the $1.4 billion per year in federal loans that helped keep Corinthian afloat.
Some hints emerged today in the giant chain’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware. It shows that Corinthian made secret payments to an array of political consultants, think tanks and political dark money groups.
Those groups included “Crossroads G.P.S., a group co-founded by Karl Rove that has raised over $300 million to elect Republican members of Congress through campaign advertising.”
Crossroads G.P.S. spent over $700,000 to help elect Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., during his 2010 election. As Bloomberg News revealed, Rubio later filed a letter with the Department of Education, requesting that the agency “demonstrate leniency” with Corinthian.
Also listed in the bankruptcy filing are the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the American Enterprise Institute, all of which engage in activities promoting education privatization schemes.
“This is public money that’s going into a for-profit college, that then is used to fund organizations that do lobbying work and other PR work on behalf of this company,” says Ann Larson, an organizer with the Debt Collective, a group pushing for loan forgiveness for Corinthian students who say they were defrauded. “In the end, Corinthian can file for bankruptcy while tens of thousands of students, most of them low-income, are stuck with this debt.”
“It’s certainly not surprising that the corporate and political elites managed to come up with this scam,” Larson said.
Student loans, unlike for-profit educational institutions, are not covered by bankruptcy laws.
According to a story in the Los Angeles Times:
Meanwhile, students left in the wake of Corinthian’s collapse still face significant challenges. Those who attended one of the more than two dozen schools shut down last week must choose to either transfer credits — knowing many institutions won’t recognize them — or seek to wipe out their debt and start over.
A group of former Corinthian students is also staging a student debt “strike,” refusing to pay debts owed for Corinthian education until the Department of Education agrees to a blanket loan forgiveness.
A group known as the “Corinthian 100” was scheduled to meet Monday with the Department of Education, but they canceled the meeting because of concerns that the department would pursue student debt relief on a case-by-base basis instead of offering more broad loan discharges.
Debunking the Public College Tuition Myth
At Demos.org they’ve released a study about the widely disseminated assumptions that increases in tuition at public higher education institutions are driven by administrative bloat, the increased availability of grants and loans and/or construction costs.
None of the above are true.
Their figures show that increased spending on instruction and student services accounted for the majority of spending increases. Declining state appropriations for higher education is indeed the primary driver of rising tuition at four year institutions. The data about community colleges points even more clearly to cuts in state support as the major cause of rising tuition over the past decade.
The report concludes:
In the past, state funding for education often rose and fell along with the economy: since higher education funding is viewed as “discretionary” spending, it is often a target for cuts when states are forced to close recessionary holes in their budgets. However, in the past decade, state funding for higher education has diverged from that trend. Six years after the great recession, state higher education funding per student remains 27 percent below its pre-recession level. Unfortunately, declining state support for higher education means that many students today have no choice but to take on significant debt to finance their educations, the negative effects of which are increasingly evident in young people’s lives.33
However, if we’re to ensure that the last clear pathway to the middle class in this country remains open, restoring state support for higher education is only a start. To eliminate the pile of debt that most students must now borrow just to finance their education, we need comprehensive policy reform that views higher education as a necessity, and ensures that federal and state government support for higher education is maintained at a level that allows any middle- or working-class student to obtain a college degree without mortgaging their future.
The Monies Behind (And Against) the One Paseo Development
Last week various political committees filed financial disclosures on spending for thew first quarter of 2015. It should surprise nobody that the battle over the One Paseo development had the heavy hitters.
From the Daily Transcript:
Developer Donahue Schriber spent more than $1 million fighting One Paseo this year while Kilroy Realty Corp. spent almost $2 million to get city and voter support for the mixed-use project that is likely headed for a citywide vote.
Committees filed financial disclosures Thursday for Jan. 1 to March 31 — a critical period for the 1.4-million-square-foot project — from the San Diego City Council’s entitlement approval through campaigns for a referendum and rescission signatures.
I found this paragraph particularly interesting:
A separate Kilroy Realty Corp. lobbyist filing includes contributions totaling $3,250 from nine executives and employees to Cate for Council 2014. The next report for candidates is due July 31. Councilmember Chris Cate made the motion to approve One Paseo in February.
An Unexplained Fatality in Mira Mesa
Former City Beat editor Kelly Davis is continuing on with her reporting on the criminal justice system with a story at Voice of San Diego concerning the fatal 2012 encounter Mira Mesa resident Victor Ortega had with SDPD officer Jonathan McCarthy.
A lawsuit filed by the dead man’s family questions the officer’s claim of self-defense, and a judge recently agreed to let the case proceed to trial.
In denying the city’s request to throw out the lawsuit, the judge ruled that McCarthy’s story has enough holes that a jury needs to sort out what happened.
“Plaintiffs,” Burns wrote, “have submitted evidence that would give a reasonable jury pause.”
Ortega was killed almost three years ago, but his case shares some of the same characteristics as other disputed police shootings that have recently inflamed communities across the country. A police officer pursued an unarmed criminal suspect. A struggle ensued with conflicting evidence about what occurred. And the suspect ended up dead.
The Deadly Drought
Fire season is likely to be mighty scary this year in California. A report from KPBS presents some scary (and sad) data:
An estimated 12 million trees across California’s forestlands have died over the past year because of extreme drought conditions, according to an aerial survey conducted April 8-17 by the U.S. Forest Service.
In San Diego County, 82,528 trees, mostly Jeffrey pines across Mt. Laguna, have succumbed to a lack of rainfall, with many more struggling to survive, said Jeffrey Moore, interim aerial survey program manager for the U.S. Forest Service.
On This Day: 1886 – Some 14,000 building trades workers and laborers, demanding an 8-hour work day, gathered at the Milwaukee Iron Co. rolling mill in Bay View, Wisc. They were fired on by 250 National Guardsmen under orders from the governor to shoot to kill. Seven died, including a 13-year-old boy 1955 – The musical “Damn Yankees” opened in New York City. It ran for 1,019 performances. 1961 – Alan Shepard became the first American in space when he made a 15 minute suborbital flight.
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